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Ken Morrish’s Steelhead Rig

Posted on November 09 2010

Ken Morrish, doing what he does best.  Photo: Ken Morrish
Ken Morrish, doing what he does best. Photo: Ken Morrish

As one of the fine folks behind Flywater Travel, Ken Morrish has had the chance to go steelhead fishing in some pretty fantastic places.  Ken is also an innovative angler and fly tier, with an extensive line of signature flies by Idylwilde.

If Ken was to step onto any given river in British Columbia to fish for steelhead, chances are he’d be using this rig.  It’s based on a switch rod, and Ken has some different approaches than most – be sure to read the commentary!

The Summary

  • Sage 7110-4 Z-Axis Switch Rod
  • Bauer M5 Reel
  • Airlfo Skagit Compact Shooting Head, 420 grain

The Detail

  • 30 pound dacron backing, tied to the spool with a single Uni knot
  • Rio Powerflex Floating Shooting Line in .024″ diameter, tied to the backing with an Albright knot
  • 420 grain Skagit Compact attached to the factory loop in the front of the shooting line with a loop to loop connection
  • 10 feet of T-14 as a sinktip, attached to the front of the Skagit Compact with a double nail knot loop and a loop to loop connection
  • 1 foot of 30 pound Maxima Ultragreen butt section, attached to the front of the T-14 with an Albright knot
  • 4 feet of 12 pound Maxima Ultragreen, attached to the butt section with a perfection loop in the butt section, a non-slip mono loop (Ken ties this knot differently than most; see below) in the back end of the tippet, and a loop to loop connection
  • Morrish Medusa #2 in black and pink, tied on with Ken’s version of the non-slip mono loop

The Commentary

  • “I’m becoming increasingly fond of using an 11 foot switch rod. I sometimes go into a situation thinking it’s not enough rod, but the more I fish it, the more I’m amazed how much I can get done with it, even on big rivers like the Skeena. With a real compact underhand stroke, you can cast this rod plenty far, and it gives lots of pleasure in fighting fish. I feel like I’m on vacation when I’m fishing it.”
  • “I tie the non-slip mono loop differently than most folks.  Most people tie an overhand knot, pass the leader through the eye of the hook and back through the overhand knot, then wrap 4 or 5 times and put the tag end back through the overhand knot before they tighten.  I just tie the overhand knot, pass the leader through the eye of the hook, skip the first pass through the overhand knot, wrap 5 times, and go back through the overhand knot in either direction.  When we test this knot it consistently outperforms the standard non-slip mono loop, and it’s almost impossible to tie incorrectly.”
  • “I fish the Morrish Meduda for a couple of reasons.  It’s got lead eyes but they’re not too big.  For some reason, this fly seems to have more wiggle and life in the water than pretty much any other pattern I fish.”
  • “I like flies with lead eyes, both because I want to be able to control the sink rate of the fly and get some drop, and I like that the lead eyes tend to orient the fly with the hook point riding up.”

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